Guest Post: The Era of the “Green Rush”: Is Legalized Marijuana a Fiscal Bonanza?

As of January of 2014 there are still only two states of twenty American states that have legalized medical marijuana that also permit recreational use as well; Colorado and Washington. These two states, in many ways, will set the stage for other states that are hesitant to embrace legalized recreational marijuana.

Early reports from Colorado indicate that state is generating a successful tax revenue stream since the so-called “green rush”, however, not everyone is sold on the idea of marijuana being widely available to adults, and more available to teenagers.

The marijuana “green rush” is about the thousands of inventors, investors and John and Jane Doe Public buying into the marijuana industry. In states where marijuana is not regulated the revenue that is generated is through the underground marijuana market which provides no fiscal benefit to government coffers. With a fully regulated system, states could see millions of dollars in new revenue, not to mention increased sales from consumers purchasing new inventions and devices created to make the smoking experience more pleasurable. [1]

This boost in the Colorado economy can also help create jobs and new sources of revenue, a significant motive for legislators in other states to consider. In 2012, the Colorado Center on Law & Policy made predictions on the possible financial impact that recreational marijuana could make saying, “the passage of Amendment 64 could be a boom for the state economy. Marijuana legalization would produce hundreds of new jobs, raise millions for the construction of Colorado public schools and raise around $60 million annually in combined savings and revenue for Colorado’s budget.” [1]

Predictions on the potential revenue to be earned in Colorado is on target as sales began in January of 2014. During the first week of retail sales, marijuana dispensaries earned and exceeded the $5 million mark. [2] The state has projected annual sales to reach around $600 million, and estimates $70 million in tax revenue.[2]

The legalization of recreational marijuana is still a hot topic in which supporters and opponents have battled back and forth in regards to the pros and con, especially the message it sends to adolescents and young teens. Critics of Amendment 64 are fearful of the potential greater access that legalized marijuana could have on teens. (Lyman, 2014) [3]

For years, lawmakers have claimed marijuana is not only a harmful drug but one that can lead to a harder drug use over time. There have been serious flaws in both these theories as no study has concluded that marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol. In fact, studies have found the opposite, concluding that marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco and has statistically less health endangering consequences. [1]

Many parents are also on board with marijuana regulation and agree it would be better if their teens were getting the drug from a safer source such as a dispensary, if they choose to use marijuana in the first place. Regulatemarijuana.org is a website dedicated to campaigns that support marijuana regulation and is supported by parents, and even former police officers in Colorado.

Dr. Erika Joye, a nationally certified school psychologist working with the campaigns quotes, “Marijuana prohibition is the worst possible policy when it comes to keeping marijuana out of the hands of teens. If we do not regulate marijuana across the board, we are guaranteeing that sales will be entirely uncontrolled and that those selling it will not ask for ID. We are also forcing consumers into an underground market where they are likely to be exposed to other, more harmful products.” [4]

It is clear that Colorado and Washington are setting the stage for the rest of the country, with the New York Times predicting that Oregon and Alaska will be next.

Sources:
[1]Ferner, M. (2012, August 28). Why marijuana should be legalized: ‘regulate marijuana like alcohol’ campaign discusses why pot prohibition has been a failure. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/28/why-marijuana-should-be-legalized_n_1833751.html
[2]Ferner, M. (2014, January 8). Colorado recreational marijuana sales exceed $5 million in first week. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/08/marijuana-sales-colorado_n_4552371.html

[3]Lyman , R. (2014, Feb 26). Pivotal point is seen as more states consider legalizing marijuana . New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/27/us/momentum-is-seen-as-more-states-consider-legalizing-marijuana.html?_r=0

[4]Unknown. Moms and dads for marijuana regulation post yes on 64 billboard . (2012, June 28). Retrieved from http://www.regulatemarijuana.org/news/moms-and-dads-marijuana-regulation-post-yes-64-billboard

This article is a guest post by BRENDA ABBOTT, Executive Assistant at Saint Jude Retreats, an alternative to traditional substance use treatment. Saint Jude Retreats provides a program for people with substance use problems that concentrates on self-directed positive and permanent change. Saint Jude’s offers the opportunity for individuals to self-evaluate and explore avenues for life enhancement. Brenda enjoys doing research and writing articles, spending time with her family, and is currently beginning to write her first book.

Legal Marijuana and Family Law

BarristerThe abuse of alcohol is often a factor in contested child custody and access hearings. While “social” drinking has never been a concern, where a parent has a history of alcoholism, binge drinking, or drinking and driving, a court will seriously examine whether alcohol abuse is present and take steps to ensure children are protected from its impact.

With the legalization of marijuana in Washington State and Colorado, and the introduction of decriminalization bills in New Jersey, Texas and New Hampshire, family court judges will be faced with a fresh dilemma. When smoking marijuana was against the law, it was clear: a parent who broke the law may not be a suitable custodial parent in some jurisdictions. More often both parents engaged in the activity so the issue never saw the light of day in a courtroom.

But in states where marijuana is now legal and government regulated, it can’t be any different from the consumption of alcohol, which is not a problem unless it results in dangerous behavior affecting the child.

Also consider whether smoking pot in a state where it is not legal but has been decriminalized is any different? Marijuana advocates, who favour legalization, realize that in many jurisdictions legalized pot may be difficult to achieve, but who can argue against decriminalizing marijuana possession in small amounts?

It is inevitable that the legalization/decriminalization debate will come to Canada, particularly if the Liberals are able to oust the Conservative Harper government.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Husband Refuses to Share Wheel of Fortune Jackpot With Wife

Scott and Carrie Dole were on TV, jumping for joy and embracing after Scott scooped up $51,600 as a Wheel of Fortune winner. However, the joy turned to resentment and then litigation when the previously separated couple split up a month after the win, and Carrie wanted her share of the prize.

During their previous separation Carrie had filed for divorce and although she instructed her lawyer to discontinue the action, it remained alive, so once the couple separated for the last time, she added a new claim to the divorce petition seeking one-half of the winnings.

Her lawyer argued that since the couple had reconciled and traveled and attended the Wheel of Fortune television taping together, the money ought to be shared between them as community property under Washington State family law.

Scott Dole was adamantly opposed to splitting the winnings and suggested that a monetary gift from his father to the two of them during the marriage provided a set-off to his windfall monies.

The Court disagreed with Mr. Cole who, after losing the case, confirmed that he had expected the court to divide the funds 50/50 and that he intended to give his half-share to charity.

The obvious question arises “Why would he fight his ex over this issue when he apparently knew he had a losing case and didn’t need the money anyway?”

Simple answer: It’s called family law litigation. Rationality seems to flee from some divorce litigants who would rather pay a lawyer than give in to their spouse. Sad and stupid.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang